Here I am in Florida after a leisurely four-day drive down from Ontario. Our sailboat, Windsong II, is “on the hard” nearby and some repairs and additions need to be made before we move aboard. Nothing major like last year, when we had to get a whole new mast and rigging! I’m excited about living on the sailboat for the next few months and hopeful we’ll be able to cross to the Bahamas once again. I assembled a collection of images from last year and hope to add to them as time goes on.
The trip down was a great time to think about my intentions for 2015 — creative and otherwise. Everybody talks about resolutions and plans and goals and new habits. I just made list after list of the things that enliven me that I want to do more of. I know what is important to me and what I value most so it’s just a matter of keeping that top of mind and living it out.
Photography, of course, is right at the top of that list.
For me, photography is not only about documenting moments and memories so I can share them on social media or look back on my life in the future.
It’s bound up with a way of living life to the fullest and being more open to what’s happening in the moment. It’s a way to see and experience the world more intensely and intimately. It’s a way to find out what I’m drawn to and figure out why. It’s a way to connect with myself and others, wake up and come alive. It is pro-awareness and anti-auto pilot.
But it’s also a way to create something that did not exist before (an image) out of something that does (what I point the camera at).
Images are never exact representations of things or scenes — they are the outcome of many choices made by the photographer in the moment of pressing the shutter, some conscious and much unconscious (subject, framing, lighting conditions, aperture, shutter speed, POV etc.). These choices reflect the photographer’s preferences, prejudices, history, and skills with the camera and processing — and so much more. Looked at that way, photography is art.
I learned a huge amount in 2014 that I used to make better photographs — some of it from courses and much of it from studying, practising and teaching myself. I hope to share some of what I’m learning on this blog over the course of the next year. I’ve now found many good tools and resources and I want to take the time to plumb what they have to offer. But there’s no substitute for doing it — and then doing more of it — and then doing it all again.
I’ve been dabbling in stock photography over the years but in 2015 I doubled by collection for sale on Getty Images — and my sales have improved nicely. I’ve sold almost 20% of my collection at least once, some many times. I’m going to continue with stock, not as a major focus, but as a nice sideline that helps pay for my photography needs. I don’t denigrate stock — some of the most amazing and creative images I’ve seen are on the Getty Images website. The challenge is to make compelling stock photographs.
I’ve also been mapping out a plan to rework my website/blog to better reflect my current passions in photography.
In 2015 I want to pursue black and white photography with vigour — that means more street photography, cityscapes, architecture and portraiture. I hope to refine my approach to colour work, focusing on and playing with simple but intense colour combinations.
And I want to continue “seeing in a new way,” which means practising contemplative photography in a way that has been inspired by Kim Manley Ort and the Miksang school. I also want to experiment more with abstract and impressionistic photography.
I’m also committed to improving my technical skills to learn how to make the best possible images in camera — so that I am more able to create the kind of images that communicate to others. This means, for example, working on things like night photography and long exposures.
My friends over at the collective blog Focusing on Life are working on “night photography” this month so I thought I’d give it a try. I haven’t always been happy with my night photography so I definitely need more practice here. So I pulled out the trusty tripod the other night and tried to capture the lagoon that we can see from where we’re staying.
On the way down to Florida, we made a stop in St. Augustine — the oldest city in North America — and a favourite place of mine. I love the old buildings and the character of the aging Florida cottages. And of course, I had to visit the lighthouse. I was lucky to arrive just as the sun was breaking through the clouds behind it, which made for a dramatic shot.
Last year, the word I chose to guide myself was “light.” And without even thinking about it much, I saw my photographs change organically to be much more aware of and sensitive to light. I learned about how to deal with different kinds of light and what kind of light I gravitated to. For photographers, who literally “write with light,” this is a study that never ends.
So I’m not yet finished with “light.”
I told one of my dear sister photographers some time last year that I was taking my photography more “seriously.” She never fails to remind me that it seems to be paying off. So, no need to fix an approach that’s not fundamentally broken. But, being serious doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun!
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